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I am not Michael Howard

Blogpower Testimonial 10: Ellee Seymour

Link: Ellee Seymour - Why me?.

Image021There is a sense in which Ellee Seymour is cheating. She is no"citizen journalist" blogger, but a professional PR person and former "dead tree" hack. She spins, no doubt guilefully, for her political PR clients, making politicians look better than they are (why else do they pay her?) Yet I have no sense that the warm and open style for which her blog is known is contrived. Having briefly met her, I think she writes pretty much as she speaks. If she spins for a living, then her blog is not obviously a busman's holiday - although I am sure it's a useful business card. She is making her readers like her, prospective clients must think, so why shouldn't she do the same for them?

Her first post was typical. She waded in with personal revelations, as if resuming an interrupted conversation with a friend. She revealed her reason for blogging; to record her experiences as she strove to overcome a fear of public speaking. Her blogging has now taken on a life of its own, but how very Ellee-ish that it began as part of a flurry of practical initiatives to address a problem.

The idea of a blog was suggested by a fellow member of Toastmasters. Ellee had joined to help resolve her public speaking issues. In the next two posts, she told us that she was also taking up salsa and charity work as part of the same self-improvement programme. There are no half measures with Ellee. This was a woman remaking herself.

Her open style makes Ellee a natural for blogging. In those first three posts, she revealed more than I have in two ponderous years. No wonder her readers were agog to know where this personal voyage would lead. Pretty soon however her journalistic and political instincts took over. While the relentless self-revelation continued, broader topics crept in. She rapidly became enthused with the idea of helping her clients to reach target audiences through blogging. Her enthusiasm shone through in posts about conversations with more-or-less bemused friends as her thinking developed.

Enthusiasm ought to be Ellee's middle name. Not long after her tsunami of self-improvement began, she was making her singing debut with the Stretham Players in yet another attempt to overcome a lack of confidence that I am damned if I can detect. I make public speeches regularly and am perfectly confident on a stage, but I am a shrinking violet by comparison with Ellee.

After just four months' blogging, Iain Dale placed her in 9th place among his top 20 Conservative blogs. By September 16th Ellee was ranked in the top 10 of 100 Conservative bloggers and in the top 10% of 400 blogs of all political persuasions. By November, the lady who couldn't bear the idea of public speaking was making her first appearance on TV, being interviewed about Jon Snow's refusal to wear a poppy when reading the news. 2006 ended on a high note with the award of a "blogging CBE" by Tory Radio.

Ellee's fame seems certain to grow further in 2007. On "Blue Monday" she appeared on 18 Doughty Street and by all accounts she did well. Ellee is an A List Blogger. Blogpower is lucky to have her - and would be even luckier if she would get around to displaying the banner and blogroll!

Why is she so successful? Instinctively, she understood from the outset that blogs are a social medium. A blog is not an electronic soapbox; it is about interaction. I have developed a new theory in the course of researching my Blogpower reviews. I think that commenters subconsciously match their style to the blogger's own, rather as people in meetings mimic the posture and gestures of people they would like to influence. It is noticeable that commenters who can be acerbic elsewhere, tend to be affable on Ellee's blog. People become nicer around her. In consequence her blog is no literary salon or debating arena, but a kitchen where friends chat over coffee and virtual biscuits.

Ellee's diverse interests lead naturally to an interesting balance of local, national and international subjects. She is direct and uncomplicated; saying what she thinks in such a gentle, commonsense way that it is impossible to take offence even when she is hopelessly wrong. She asks questions rather than offering opinions or rants. That's one key reason why her blog is a busy place with lots of views exchanged. The contrast with the smell of gunsmoke in the comment columns of some male blogs could not be more dramatic. That friendly atmosphere means it always a pleasure to visit, even if such cutesy words as "sparky" and "hubby" do occasionally make me cringe!

"Lady Ellee" is a treasure. Long may she adorn the British blogosphere in general, and Blogpower in particular.

[This, thank God, concludes my exhausting series of 10 reviews of Blogpower blogs. Normal political ranting will now resume!]